IBM Model M Keyboard

From Academic Kids

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ModelM.jpg
IBM Model M Keyboard, Part no. 1391401, Manufactured 1989

The IBM Model M keyboard was manufactured by IBM, Lexmark and finally Unicomp, starting in the 1980s. Built solidly, with a heavy steel backplate and fully swappable keycaps, its sturdiness and versatility allows it to outlive virtually any other computer component, and its buckling spring key design gives it a precise if noisy feel that is a boon for touch-typists. Famous for its excellent design and longevity, the keyboard is popular in the hacker community. It is one of the only computer components one can own that is as useful today as it was almost twenty years ago, an unheard of value in computer technology.

History

Production for the original Model M began in 1985, and the keyboards were often bundled with new IBM computers in the 1980s. These keyboards were produced by IBM, made in the United States, and had part number 1391401. Until 1987, the keyboards featured a detachable AT cable; after that, they were bundled with a detachable PS/2 cable.

In 1993, Lexmark bought the Model M design from IBM, although they continued to produce Model Ms for IBM. The Lexmark-produced keyboards are identifiable by the back label, which clearly says "Made by Lexmark for IBM", and had part number 42H1292. Widely regarded as somewhat inferior in build quality to the original Model M, the 42H1292 also featured internal drainage channels designed to minimize damage in case of a spill. These keyboards were produced until 1996.

After that, a company called Unicomp bought the Model M design from Lexmark. The design, the same as the 42H1292 design, is still in production.

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